Thing No. 1: Give your kids a “practice night” (from the comfort of their own room) in the sleeping bag or tent or ??? that they will be sleeping in on vacation. This can help ease the strangeness of a new sleeping arrangement that first night away.
Thing No. 2: Let them make decisions about the snacks/meals that you pack along for the trip. For example: if you are buying some kind of special cracker/juice/cereal give them three options you are willing to buy and let them pick the one they’d like to take along.
Thing No. 3: If you are headed to a sunny destination and have children who easily burn, here’s a way we have found to end the “please wear your hat- no, I don’t want to” battle- We wait to buy our children’s head covering for the summer until right before we leave for the trip. Letting them pick the hat, and having it still be NEW on the vacation gives the hat-wearing requirement a new exciting angle! (I have found that buying hats at end of the season sales doesn’t work real well for our family…my kids have big heads…that grow in unexplained patterns over the winter).
Thing No. 4: Buy your milk and bananas before you go. These silly things are a standby for so many families with young kids and the vacation spots know it! I’ve never seen bananas and milk priced so high as I have while on vacation. Save yourself some moola and pack it in the car with you.
Thing No. 5: Toss a small fan (or white noise machine if you already have one) in the car. If you are sleeping in the same room as your kids, it will be a lifesaver for Mom and Dad. Drowning out the cute little noises of my children sleeping is essential for me to sleep in the same room with them.
Oh, and Tylenol PM helps too. :-)